New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday that he is declaring a disaster emergency for gun violence – treating it as a public health crisis – but critics from both sides of the aisle are skeptical about the strategy and the governor’s true motives.
Cuomo compared his approach to how his administration addressed the coronavirus pandemic – something for which he has claimed great success while being heavily criticized for his handling of nursing home patients, many of whom died. Just like with COVID-19, Cuomo is taking action through an executive order.
“Just like we did with COVID, New York is going to lead the nation once again with a comprehensive approach to combating and preventing gun violence, and our first step is acknowledging the problem with a first-in-the-nation disaster emergency on gun violence,” he said.
Cuomo recognized that gun violence is not limited to his own state, but he positioned himself has the leader of a movement to combat it through a new executive order.
“Now, this is a national problem. I get it. But somebody has to step up and somebody has to address it,” Cuomo said.
Democratic New York state Assemblyman Ron Kim, a known political rival of Cuomo who clashed with him over nursing home deaths, warned that Cuomo’s order is really a power grab and a way to stay in the spotlight.
“For Cuomo, this isn’t about fixing gun violence. It’s about continuing his executive powers through a state of emergencies so he can continue to play savior on TV while monitoring his poll no’s incessantly,” Kim tweeted.
Kim later tweeted again, responding to Cuomo comparing his approach to gun violence to that of the pandemic. He accused the governor of using this as an opportunity to profit without solving any problems.
“Translation: I want to use gun violence to play hero again on my brother’s CNN show and earn another $5.1 million on a book deal while not doing anything to end the cycle of violence,” Kim said.
Others focused on the failures of the Cuomo administration during the pandemic, as the state suffered one of the highest number of casualties in the nation, with a significant percentage of them coming from nursing home patients who died after Cuomo ordered facilities to accept residents from hospitals who had tested positive for COVID-19. The administration faced further criticism for keeping the numbers under wraps.
“Said without irony: @NYGovCuomo wants to do with gun violence what he did with Covid,” tweeted Lindsey Boylan, a former Cuomo staffer who was the first in a string of many women to accuse him of sexual harassment or misconduct.
Rep. Claudia Tenney, R-N.Y., pointed to what she thinks the true disaster emergency really is.
“I know of about 15,000 families who would consider his deadly COVID nursing home policy a ‘Disaster Emergency,'” she tweeted.
Fox News reached out to Cuomo’s office for a response to the criticism, but they did not immediately respond.
Marc Molinaro, a Republican who challenged Cuomo in 2018, pointed to the governor’s criminal justice policies, which have included eliminating cash bail for many offenses.
“Andrew Cuomo and the Democrats in Albany have spent the past 4 years dismantling our criminal justice system, undermining public safety, and even threatening the well-being of alleged assailants,” Molinaro said in a statement. “To now blame the increase in violence on anyone but themselves is absurd and dishonest.”
Similarly, former NYPD Commissioner Bernard Kerik blamed leadership for the rise in crime that has plagued New York, especially New York City, over the past year.
“The governor, prosecutors, and mayor are responsible for the increases in violent crime, shootings, and murder,” Kerik tweeted, calling the executive order “nothing more than an attempted back door attack on our second amendment.”
Cuomo senior adviser Rich Azzopardi rejected the criticism in a statement.
“This is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard — this is about saving lives and if these craven politicians don’t understand that then they shouldn’t be in public service,” Azzopardi said.